The basic concept of time-space convergence is when ‘the travel time required between places decreases and distance declines in significance’, and is used to examine the changing nature of spatial relationships. Time-space convergence occurs at different rates across the world, with some areas of the world having seen little in developments of technological links, or lacking available communications due to the physical Geography of the area in order to obtain lower travel times between places.
The main reason for differences in rates of time-space convergence across the world is due to wealthier nations having the ability to have the latest available technology with transport innovation. This involves improvements in a specific mode of transport as well as improvements in transport infrastructure increasing its overall efficiency, which help a city’s or country’s accessibility and may lead to an even greater demand for further improvements.
Travel times have decreased dramatically over the past 100 years, with the travel time between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara in the USA, which took 500 minutes in 1901 and only 100 minutes in 2001. Global time-space convergence is not spatially uniform, which implies that some regions benefit more than others. For example, time-space convergence through transport systems in Western Europe and North America, and across the North Atlantic, has taken place at a faster rate than other regions of the world, such as Latin America or Africa.
It can be assumed that as economic and infrastructure development takes place around the world, time-space convergence is likely to become more uniform, with poorer countries, especially RICS and BRICS having their rates if time-space convergence increases. Popularity and demand also has an effect on travel times. Due to higher demand, airplanes now fly to more and more places, and more frequently. However, certain locations have suffered due to the fact that they are not seen as ‘holiday destinations’, leading to very few, in some cases no direct flights internationally to certain locations around the world.
However, restrictions in certain locations can affect the rates of time-space convergence, including speed limits on motorways and air traffic control limitations. High usage of infrastructure can lead to congestion and time-space divergence, an increase in travel times. This means that at any one point, the busiest ports for travelling may have their travel times increased due to the sheer business, whereas less busy and less popular destinations may have their travel times decreasing.
Transport innovation has impacted the least accessible nations badly with countries in Africa, for example, who are landlocked and are unable to use containerisation in ships, as well as being unable to use containerisation by rail to the maximum due to its lack of technological links and lack of funding. This has led to lower rates of development and therefore lower rates of time-space convergence, along with certain political changes in countries which can lead to the loss of trade etc.
Time-space convergence can also be measured in terms of cost rather than time, emphasising the different rates of time-space convergence around the world between poorer nations, which are seen as the less sought after places, with a lack of financial opportunities. Figures from minute-long phone calls from the USA in 2000 further prove this point and the results shows considerable spatial differentiation with economic activity not evenly dispersed across the land.
For example, on the map, London and Tokyo are shown to be ‘closer’ to the USA than Mexico City, with a huge volume of communication between these three most important financial centres. With these high levels of communication and technological links, communication is easier and quicker over twice the distance from certain places, and over water rather than land. This proves the high economic powers that certain areas have around the world. To conclude, there are big differences whether it is in transportation or communication, with the less popular and least accessible locations with the lower rates of time-space convergence.
Also, wealth is another factor which allows a country to improve its technology and communication links. This development stage is important to the higher rates of time-space convergence with improvements in the speed of transport, the extension and efficiency of networks and developments in telecommunications. What this means is that there are a greater number of links (technological and communication) which increases accessibility to people, along with lower costs on transport, based on the demand and popularity of certain locations.